DVC Speech and Debate Team Wins First Ever State Championship


DVC Speech and Debate Team

Dymond Walker, Staff

The Diablo Valley College Speech and Debate team tried for many years to capture the title of state champions. This spring, with the help of extraordinary coaches and resilient students, the college did just that.

 DVC brought home first place in the California Community College Forensics Association State Championship Tournament, held remotely in mid-March. The victory represented the first time in more than half a century of competition that DVC’s Speech and Debate team took home top state honors. 

Coaches Robert Hawkins and Blake Longfellow explained that a lot of factors went into this year’s team achieving its ultimate goal. Like winning in any sport, it largely came down to a simple rule: practice. 

“Each year the team gets better and better. It takes years of development and structure,” Longfellow told The Inquirer. “A lot of it is infrastructure, which takes time to build. There also needs to be good incentives for good enough staff to join the team as well as students.”

He added, “We did the work for five years, which is why it paid off now.”

Coming more than a year into the coronavirus pandemic, the first-ever statewide win carried special resonance for team members, and for the campus at large.

“The DVC community is so proud of our students in achieving this historic milestone,” President Susan Lamb said in a statement. “Despite the challenges they faced as a result of the pandemic, the team persevered and accomplished their goal.”

People often think that preparing for a debate takes a lot of time, said Hawkins, but this is actually not always the case. 

“Debate is kind of like a track meet, where you keep working until you get as fast as you can go,” he said. “There is no finish line. You constantly practice until you get better. For a speech on the other hand, the average is a month.”

Hawkins also weighed in on why the win was especially meaningful to the team at this time.

“It’s special because it was during a pandemic. It’s very hard to be focused, to go above what is required,” Hawkins said.

“The team was very talented from last year, [and] many of them stayed for this year as well,” he added. “We also have the best coaching staff in the country.”